Mehbooba Mufti calls for immediate end to tension on border

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday called for immediate de-escalation of the situation along the border in the state so that miseries of the people in border villages could end.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday called for immediate de-escalation of the situation along the border in the state so that miseries of the people in border villages could end.

Presiding over a meeting of the Unified Headquarters (UHQ) in summer capital Srinagar, Mehbooba expressed grief and anguish over the loss of precious human lives in fresh spate of cross-border shelling and called for immediate de-escalation of the situation along the border.

The Chief Minister also condemned the killing of scores of police cadets in a terror attack on a police training academy in Quetta, Pakistan.

"Ways and means shall have to be explored immediately to bring an end to the sufferings of the hapless people subjected to immense miseries over the past few months due to the continuous cross-border shelling and escalation of violence in the state and the region," she said.

The UHQ is the apex body of all the security agencies, including the army, paramilitary forces, state police, and central and state intelligence agencies, engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the state.

Mehbooba, who heads the UHQ as the Chief Minister of the state, said the vicious cycle of death and destruction confronting the region must end at the earliest and serious efforts should be made at the political and civil society levels to revive the peace and reconciliation process for the larger good of the people sandwiched in a gory situation.

Expressing heartfelt condolences at the killing of a six-year-old boy in cross-border firing in R.S. Pura sector of Jammu, the Chief Minister said: "My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones in the fresh violence, both along the borders and at the Police Academy in Quetta, in which they had no role to play."

She reiterated her government's stand that only coordinated political effort at the highest levels in New Delhi and Islamabad will eliminate the menace of violence and usher the region into an era of peace and prosperity.

Making a fervent appeal for maintaining peace at the borders, Mehbooba said the cross-border shelling has seen a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region, with people fleeing their homes and scurrying for safety.

"This disquieting scenario has to end to facilitate people's peacefully living in their homes and hearths," she said and added that people in Jammu and Kashmir have always been the worst sufferers in such hostile situations.

She said the hostile and alarming situation along the borders and LoC should keep reminding the two countries of the inevitability of sitting across the table to find a just and pragmatic solution to all the contentious issues.

The Chief Minister recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent statement, wherein he called upon Pakistan to jointly wage a war against poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and infant mortality.

She said it is high time that the two countries come together without any further delay and start a final war against violence, terrorism and the social and economic deprivation plaguing the region.

The Chief Minister said whatever the reasons for hardening of stances and attempts by the vested interests to subvert the peace process, there is no substitute to the reconciliatory policy, as was done in 2003.

"Backed by a decisive mandate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the opportunity to revive the process of reconciliation in the sub-continent and emerge as a man of peace in the region," she said.

The Chief Minister said the significant reconciliatory measures taken between 2002 and 2005 in and around Jammu and Kashmir, both on internal and external fronts, had not only helped improve the security scenario in the region but within the state as well.

"The ceasefire of 2003 had not only given the much-needed relief to the people living along the borders, but it had also provided the broader umbrella for the peace process to flourish.

"The ceasefire agreement brought, after decades of tension and destruction, relief and normalcy into the lives of people residing in the state's forward areas from Kathua to Kargil and at the same time, it also made historic initiatives like opening up of LoC for bus service in J&K."

She maintained: "After over decades of agony, we had started seeing a ray of hope in the peace process between 2002 and 2005, which unfortunately is under severe threat today."

She expressed hope that the dark shadows of pessimism cast over the peace process will not jeopardize the region's security and stability as any such scenario would have disastrous and colossal consequences for the people living in the region.

"We in Jammu and Kashmir understand better what the ordeal of violence is, as it has been our fate to live through and survive its frightening hazards," she said and added that for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, suffering over two decades of turmoil, has been a long, dark experience, bloody at times and frustrating at almost every step.

"For the people of Jammu and Kashmir peace, along the borders and within the mainland, is of immense significance and I hope the political leadership of the two countries treats it with the same spirit," she said and called for political dialogue within the state for the resolution of the internal dimensions of the problem.

She also urged upon the security agencies to conduct their operations keeping in view the safety of the people.

She stressed the need for following a humane approach while dealing with the law and order situation on ground.

While asking the security agencies to exercise maximum restraint, the Chief Minister asked them to avoid any civilian casualties and damage to private and public property.

Expressing shock over recent reports of various school buildings being gutted in mysterious fire incidents, she said that it is a loss to the entire society.

She asked police to investigate these fire incidents and maintain vigil to prevent such unfortunate events.

The Chief Minister asked the security forces to focus on area security rather than static deployments.

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